CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation Monique Villa at an Aswat Masriya conference on March 3, 2013. Ahmed Hamed/Aswat Masriya
"If someone a year-and-a-half ago would have told me: Monique, in six weeks we’ll put together a website in Arabic and we’ll secure an exclusive one-to-one interview with Mohamed Mursi, or with novelist Alaa al Aswany or with Abboud al Zomor (the Islamist who took part in the assassination of Saddat), I would have just said: maybe if we are lucky we’ll achieve all this in a good couple of years!" Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation told a conference held by Aswat Masriya to celebrate its re-launch on Sunday.
Generating around 300 stories and being picked up by over 50 media outlets per week, the Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored Aswat Masriya website is, according to Villa, one of the foundation's biggest success stories.
"The impact of the stories that Aswat Masriya generates doesn’t just stop on the site. Instead it resonates across the globe - shared by Egyptian bloggers and analysts - across Facebook and Twitter, in both English and Arabic," Villa, who headed the French News Agency in London before becoming the CEO of the TRF in 2008, said.
She explained that the TRF has trained over 11,000 journalists in more than 170 nations, including the Aswat Masriya team, adding that by 2014, the Foundation aims to have trained up to 300 more journalists and 30 parliamentarians.
Aswat Masriya’s Editor in Chief, Saif Eldin Hamdan, said that the project aims to provide readers with objective, impartial and accurate news, adding however that despite all efforts, the website is still not recognized by the press syndicate and other state institutions.
The conference included a seminar under the title 'Media Revolution (The Future of Media in Egypt)' that was moderated by journalist Amr Khafagy who discussed the important role of private media before and after Egypt's 2011 uprising.
Blogger Wael Khalil and journalists Fatihya al-Dokhany and Khaled al-Balshy spoke at the seminar where Khalil argued that state media owes citizen journalism for removing the veil on key issues while Dokhany addressed the challenges of confirming "online" news.